When Birmingham-born filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin started planning to co-direct “American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story,” they rapidly settled on who they needed to play the function of the Tremendous Bowl-winning, Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame quarterback.
It was Zachary Levi, who portrayed the title character within the DC Superhero film “Shazam!” – who got here to them like a lightning bolt.
“We had gotten to know Zach Levi well,” stated Jon Erwin, CEO of Kingdom Story Firm. “He’s such a great guy, and such a great fit for Kurt Warner. They look so similar, their personalities are so similar. Of course, he had his huge hit with the movie ‘Shazam.’”
Levi was additionally identified for taking part in the title character within the NBC collection “Chuck,” which ran from 2007-12.
“I can’t wait to start making the movie with him,” Jon Erwin stated. “He’s just such a great guy and such a great friend.”
Jon stated his brother Andy, chief working officer at Kingdom Story and his long-time movie collaborator, first urged it.
“Andy met him, we both met him years ago out in Los Angeles,” Jon Erwin stated. “He not only is a movie star, he’s just a spectacular individual. It was Andy’s instigation, but I thought it was such a great choice.”
A part of the attraction was that Levi, who grew up in Louisiana, understands the mindset of a religious evangelical Christian resembling Warner, who has at all times been very public about his religion.
“He’s a believer,” Jon Erwin stated of Levi. “He is one of the few at his level.”
The evangelical circle within the Hollywood movie business is a small one and paths are likely to cross.
“We sort of orbited in the same circles,” Jon Erwin stated. “He had been a friend. We’ve known him for a few years, but had not had the privilege of working together. So, we had gotten to know each other a little bit and just kept in touch over the years. You just look for the right thing. This felt like the right thing. He’s definitely All-American, a great guy. I can’t wait to start making the film with him.”
The mission was on the verge of being digicam prepared when the coronavirus pandemic lockdown occurred, shutting down the film business.
“We’re looking forward to going back to work soon,” Jon Erwin stated. “But it’s wild. There’s never been a disruptive event like this in the entertainment business, ever.”
Even throughout World Struggle II, Hollywood stored working, pumping out movies. Coronavirus did what a world conflict couldn’t: shut down Hollywood.
“Of course, it’s disappointing to all of us, but the world is dealing with disappointment,” Erwin stated. “We’re all in this together. Hopefully, it will be over soon.”
Like Levi, the Kurt Warner story is an ideal match for the Erwin brothers, who’re identified for his or her movies that emphasize evangelical Christian religion.
“The company we have is called Kingdom,” Jon Erwin stated. “We call it a story company. The goal is to tell stories that entertain, and are relatable no matter what you believe, but also uplift and inspire, and draw people to things that we believe are life-changing and true.”
Warner and his spouse, Brenda, have labored carefully with the Erwins on bringing the story to movie.
“Kurt and Brenda both have been wonderful partners and just great people,” Erwin stated. “I love working with them. They’ve been heavily involved. It’s been so much fun. They are just wonderful people.”
It’s not but identified when long-delayed filming can start on the Kurt Warner story, which can recount Warner’s rise from stocking cabinets at a Hy-Vee grocery after a failed tryout with the Inexperienced Bay Packers in 1994 to profitable NFL MVP awards in 1999 and 2001 and MVP of the Tremendous Bowl with the St. Louis Rams in 2000. Warner, the one undrafted quarterback to steer his crew to a Tremendous Bowl victory, had a 12-year NFL profession and led groups to 3 Tremendous Bowls. He led the Arizona Cardinals to their first Tremendous Bowl look in 2009, after many observers thought-about him washed-up as a participant.
“It’s truly one of the great underdog stories in the history of sports,” Erwin stated. “I’m so grateful to be able to tell it. It’s a spectacular story. That one’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The most recent launch for the Erwins was “I Still Believe,” which had a $9.eight million field workplace opening and was on the prime of charts on Friday, March 13, earlier than the lockdown closed film theaters worldwide. That film was filmed solely in Alabama, principally in Cell.
“It was great to have another movie open overall in the top three,” Erwin stated. “That’s such an accomplishment. It was number one on Friday, and to do almost $10 million box office during a pandemic is incredible.”
The timing of the pandemic hit them exhausting.
“The film would have been very successful,” Erwin stated. “I don’t know how successful, but it would have been very successful at the box office. We were able to pivot it quickly to be available as a premium rental. It did very, very well that way. Thanks to technology, millions of people have seen the movie. We’re grateful.”
The Erwins at the moment are left to surprise if “I Still Believe” may have achieved the identical degree of success as their earlier film, “I Can Only Imagine.”
That film, additionally with a Christian music theme, made greater than $83.four million on the U.S. field workplace, $86 million worldwide, on a finances of solely $7 million. That gave the Erwins the breakthrough success that allowed them to create Kingdom Story Firm.
Though they grew up in Birmingham and have filmed most of their films in Alabama, the Erwins moved to Nashville in July 2019. Kingdom Story Firm has workplaces in Los Angeles and Nashville, they usually commute between the 2, however nonetheless go to household in Birmingham incessantly. Their earlier films, “October Baby,” “Mom’s Night Out” and “Woodlawn,” had been filmed in Alabama.
“American Underdog” will doubtless be filmed in Oklahoma, the first filming location for “I Can Only Imagine,” though that had some scenes shot in Alabama.
“Right now, we’re scheduled to go back to Oklahoma,” Erwin stated. “We’ll see. It’s changing by the day and by the hour because of the coronavirus, so it’s an interesting time. We’ll see what happens.”
However he’s decided to renew making films as quickly as attainable.
“I believe in the theatrical experience and in movie theaters,” Jon Erwin stated. “We want our movies in movie theaters as soon as they can be, and we’ll get back to work. I’ve just learned to accept the things that we can’t control in life, and to focus on the things that we can. There are just things that we can’t control.”